Blog - Awning Safety and Certification of Street Awnings

The NSW Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Planning has recently drawn awareness to potential safety issues relating to awnings over public lands. This has been primarily driven by the Deputy State Coroner’s coronial inquest into a fatal accident at Balgowlah in December 2007 involving the collapse of an aging street awning.

Subsequently, Deputy State Coroner has made recommendations to address the issue of awning safety over public lands and has requested local Councils implement a program to raise awareness of the need to monitor the safety of awnings as they age. Recent legislation also provides local Councils with power to carry out mandatory inspections on street awnings where remediation work would be compulsory if structural concerns were identified. 

The Department of Infrastructure and Planning document is available from this link and contains information relating to inspection of awnings.

The primary factor that affects shop and street awning compliance is that many were designed and constructed in an era when building code requirements were not as stringent as current Australian Standards.

Residential and commercial strata buildings regularly integrate retail / commercial space into the building on the lower levels, incorporating an awning to provide shelter and signage opportunities for the shop tenants. Due to the legislation, we are regularly asked to inspect awning structures as a result of an Emergency Order, Rectification Order or Notice of Intention to Serve an Order, all of which require a practising Structural Engineer to certify structural adequacy.

Typically the certification process involves a comprehensive site inspection together with a detailed structural report outlining all relevant observations. During the inspection, all structural members and connections are measured and identified in order to undertake a comprehensive design check which will be documented in the report. The report will also advise on the insitu condition of the awning structure and will generalise on the likely cause and possible remedial solutions for any observed detriment.

If the awning structure is found to be inadequate due to structural non compliance or disrepair, further analysis may be required in order to produce a detailed Scope of Works and Repair Specification for the subsequent awning remediation work. A fee to produce this more detailed documentation, along with any further inspections or testing requirements would be identified within the initial reporting.

MJ Civil also offer a tender issue, review of contractors returns & recommendation service as well as a superintendant service for supervision of the ongoing site works for certification purposes.